West Brom head into this weekend’s game against West Ham with no wins in their last six league games at the Hawthorns. As he prepares to make his home league debut, here is why Nacer Chadli could be the key to solving Albion’s woes at home.
Watching Albion at home in recent times has been a frustrating way to spend an afternoon.
Pulis’ side struggle to convert momentary spells of pressure into dominant performances. In fact, it often feels like Pulis’ side are the away team, willing to surrender possession and wait for opportunities at set plays.
And there is little wrong with surrendering possession at home, Leicester did it to great affect last season, but they had qualities in the final-third that Albion simply don’t. However, the attacking outlet that West Brom have been craving has just arrived in the form of Chadli.
The Belgian international was one of few positives in Albion’s defeat against Bournemouth.
He showed some nice touches and looked to play decisive balls in the final third – a quality Albion have been lacking in the absence of James Morrison.
Chadli’s presence on the wing seemed to lift the performance of Matt Phillips on the opposite flank. Phillips has had a mixed start to his Albion career but the balance of having another forward-thinking winger on the pitch relieved some of the pressure on him. Chadli also linked up well with fullback Brendan Galloway.
The on-loan Everton youngster made a few good overlapping runs in support of Chadli, and the duo caused problems for Bournemouth right-back Adam Smith. Albion fans will be hoping Chadli can have a similar influence on his teammates this weekend.
Notably, Chadli was given the freedom to drift off the wing and into more central areas. He wasn’t afraid to pop up on the same flank as Phillips and was constantly looking to be involved in the final-third.
Albion have often looked woefully short of ideas in open play at home but the introduction of Chadli should be the spark to get fans on their feet.
Importantly, Chadli has the talent to make Pulis compromise on his rigid defensive shape. If Chadli can be occasionally excused of his defensive duties, especially during home games, he can focus on being the focal point of Albion attacks.
Chadli scored 15 league goals in a Spurs shirt and West Brom have been desperately lacking goals from the midfield. Salomon Rondon has carried the goalscoring burden, and has done so feeding off scraps. Chadli’s knack for popping up with an important goal could be the difference in typically tight battles at the Hawthorns.
Albion must look at the impression that Dimitri Payet has had on Saturday’s opponents West Ham.
His arrival brought an electricity to a West Ham team that was previously built for the defensively-minded Sam Allardyce. If Chadli can have a similar influence on this Baggies side then his presence may just be enough to transform West Brom’s